- Gearing Up for the Draft (12-13-2004)
- The 2005 United States Draft: Will you answer the call? (FCN, 07-17-2004)
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – Kim Rosario, 38, became an anti-war activist after her oldest son, Joshua was sent to Iraq earlier this year. “I talk to anyone who will listen on buses, on the subway and in the supermarket. I want them to understand how bad this war is for this nation,” Ms. Rosario said.
“Joshua was my motivator,” she shared, after speaking at the “Emergency Anti-War, Stop the Draft Conference” on Dec. 4 at the Lang Center at the New School University in Manhattan. “And now that my eyes have been opened to so much injustice in the world, I must speak out,” she insisted.
This is not just about Joshua anymore, Ms. Rosario stressed. “I love my son, but this is bigger than him now. This is about a lot of young men and women and, of course, the Iraqi people,” the Brooklyn mother of four said. “We have to step up our direct action against this war,” she concluded.
The conference was sponsored by the New York-based International Action Center (IAC), and was called to discuss how the draft would work, how to resist the draft and how to support those who want to resist–inside and outside of the military.
“We are launching a new phase of the anti-war struggle,” IAC spokesman Dustin Langley said. According to Mr. Langley, representatives from various anti-war organizations and coalitions, labor leaders, youth organizers, veterans of the current war in Iraq and members of families now in the military had answered the call to come together for a “strategic discussion.”
“More and more young people in the military are taking a stand against an illegal and immoral war. It is important for the anti-war movement to support them,” Mr. Langley said.
Jim Talib is a Marine from Woodbridge, N.J., who recently served in Iraq. He is now working with the anti-war movement, speaking out against the war.
“A lot of us thought that we could do some good by going to Iraq. Some even believed there were actually weapons of mass destruction there. But after a few months in Iraq, even some of the staunch right-wing, patriotic types, who bought into being a Marine and very much into the agenda of President George Bush, started realizing that the reasons they told us we were there, were just not true,” Mr. Talib stressed. He said the media was not reporting the comments of soldiers in Iraq who oppose the war.
Eddie Boyd served his nation for seven years, 1980 to 1987, and saw action in Lebanon. He now works in Baltimore, Md. as a homeless veteran outreach coordinator.
“Our options, as Black men, are limited. I looked around, there was nothing going on for me; the only thing that could help me do what I needed to do was going into the military,” Mr. Boyd said, adding that the anti-war movement was showing young people that they have other options other than the military.
It took a mother’s love to keep Nicholas Hill, 26, out of military service.
“I wanted to help my mother pay for my college education, so I signed up for the Marine Reserves in 1996,” Mr. Hill revealed. “My mother and I had many serious arguments about me joining the Marines. She is a strong Jamacian woman, and an educator, and very opinionated, so she started making me brownies, cookies and anything she could put marijuana in–and I flunked the recruiter’s drug test,” Mr. Hill said laughingly.
Mr. Hill said his mother’s message was very clear: “You cannot send your child off to kill someone else’s child.” She said that we need to, as a people, find out the right causes to fight for, he added.
A report by Aljazeera.net said that the U.S. military began a buildup on Dec. 3, sending 12,000 troops to Iraq from the 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, N.C. The story said that the Pentagon revealed that, by Dec. 31, there would be 150,000 American troops in Iraq, up from the 138,000 serving there after Pres. Bush declared the Iraq war was over. The Arab language news service also reported that the Pentagon said they preferred expanding the force in Iraq mainly by keeping some troops already there for a longer period of time.
Army officials report that those 4,400 soldiers from the Second Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii were extended, along with 3,500 from the 22nd Brigade of the First Calvary Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas, and 160 troops based in Kleser Klasern, Germany.
But activists at the conference called attention to reports that a third of the 2,500 called up by the Army to report for refresher training on Nov. 7 did not report. They said this was clear evidence that the resistance was spreading.
The soldiers are from the pool of 110,000 troops in the Army’s Individual Ready Reserve unit. The New York Times, in a Nov. 16 story, reported that at least 1,800 soldiers, from a pool of 4,000 the Army had sent notices to, have requested exemptions or delays in reporting. Analysts say this resistance has put a strain on the military.
Another issue facing the Pentagon is that some soldiers and National Guardsmen are also fighting stop-loss orders that prevent them from leaving the military when their enlistment periods end. Many of the conference participants emphasized that the only avenue left to the Pentagon was to begin drafting people to serve in the military.
“That is why we are trying hard to get into the schools to counteract what the recruiters are doing,” offered Monique Code, a wounded veteran-turned-anti-war activist. She said schools are forcing youth to believe that the only option they have is the military.
But 19-year-old Scherali Khaklo, from Queens, N.Y., says that he and his friends aren’t fooled by the military recruiters, who now come into the projects to talk to them.
“The recruiters are all over us. They are insistent. They come to the mall, they even came into our high school lunchroom after us,” Mr. Khaklo said.